It was just over 18 months ago that I stood outside the fitness room at the Avalon Park YMCA staring through the large glass wall, mesmerized by about a dozen people on single wheeled bicycles frantically pedaling yet seemingly going nowhere. Little did I know I was about to join them, and embark on a journey of my own.
The previous 14 years of my life, there was never any time to go to exercise and most of the food I consumed was what was easy and available. Ultimately, it took a toll on my body. As I got older, my metabolism slowed down, but the bad eating habits I acquired over the years still remained. I was probably in partial denial as well. My weight had skyrocketed from 150 to 235 pounds.
When I visited doctors they would all tell me my blood pressure was dangerously high and I needed to address the issue. I would check my blood pressure whenever I went to Publix at the machine in the front of the store and they were right, my levels were always in the hyertension II category.
I knew deep down that I was going to have to commit myself to losing weight and overcome these issues. My son was 2-years-old at this point and I knew if I did not do something soon, I may not be around to see him grow much older.
Back out in front of the glass wall, outside the exercise room at the YMCA, I watched the studio cycling class pedal in place and stand up and sit down for 45 minutes at a time. I never imagined that I could, or would, ever participate. I began to diet, exercise and even push myself to do cardio. And it worked – I began to feel healthier and lose weight within the first week. As my new routine continued, I found I was at a point where my weight loss had slowed rather dramatically. I was looking for something to take me to the next level, if you will. So, after nearly a year of watching, I finally got the nerve to grab a bike and saddle up.
I managed to hobble my way through an entire class – my clothes were completely drenched in sweat by the end. When I got home and my wife saw how soaked I was she immediately looked outside to see if it was raining. It was 100 percent perspiration that I earned! I finally found an exercise I could do on a regular basis that was incredibly effective and even enjoyable. I was hooked. It got to the point where if I couldn’t make it in on certain nights, classmates and instructors were genuinely disappointed when I missed a class.
Now, 18 months later, I have lost 75 pounds and am still going. I still regularly check my blood pressure at the grocery store but it is now at the low part of the acceptable range. My cholesterol levels are also very low and I scored a 97 for my company physical.
Across the board, the staff at the Y have been amazing and continually inspire me to keep coming back. I am constantly leaning new and innovative ways from them to exercise and my progress continues. I frequently bring my son to the Kids Center where he plays games and does art while I exercise. My wife also attends the Yoga classes and is really enjoying them as well.
I used to think that the value of a gym was based on the equipment and amenities. However, after getting to know the staff and people at the YMCA in Avalon Park, I have learned the true value is in the people who work and belong there. It is because of them that I keep coming back. So my journey continues.
Article by Mike Seif